The damn fools are going to do it. They really are going to do it. Tea-Publicans are willingly going to drink the “Toxic Trump” Kool-Aid and commit mass political suicide in Cleveland. Will Cleveland be the GOP’s Jonestown?
As Charles Pierce of Esquire says, This Isn’t Funny Anymore. American Democracy Is at Stake.
Welcome to the 2016 Republican convention: a four-day celebration of the ritual suicide of American democracy.
Last week the RNC Rules Committee slammed the door sut on the #NeverTrump delegate revolt. Republican Convention Panel All but Ends Anti-Trump Rebellion:
Donald J. Trump staved off a potentially embarrassing effort to throw the Republican National Convention into disarray, with delegates voting late on Thursday to squash what remained of a fading rebellion.
A voice vote in the convention’s rules committee that could have opened the door to candidates who wanted to challenge him was so overwhelmingly in his favor that the presiding officer did not need to call for an official count.
Mr. Trump’s opponents had hoped to force a vote that would have put the question of whether delegates are free to vote their consciences to the entire convention next week. Party rules bind delegates to the outcomes of the primaries and caucuses in their states in most cases, and some delegates sought to undo those rules.
An open-ended vote at the convention could have revealed major weakness on Mr. Trump’s part because there are still many delegates opposed to his nomination.
With that threat neutralized, Mr. Trump and his campaign can turn their attention to other problematic aspects of the convention, including a list of speakers that is not finalized.
And also attacking the Republican governor of the hist state of Ohio. Trump Campaign Denounces John Kasich in Ohio, Where Convention Begins. So that GOP unity thing is off to a rocky start.
The Washington Post’s conservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin, a cheerleader of the #NeverTrump movement, is back to her previously stated position of arguing for the death of the GOP and moving on with a new political party. Mourning the loss of the GOP:
[Some] Republicans note there is still the opportunity for a floor flight, but it is hard to see where the numbers will come from.
There are individual congressmen and senators and a number of governors who embrace ordered liberty, the essence of modern conservatism, and whose penchant for reform is a useful antidote to the calcified welfare state. But there is no national party capable of presenting a foreign and domestic policy center-right agenda that appeals to a majority of the country.
The state of the GOP is embodied in the jaw-dropping proposal from (apparently) rejected vice-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich: We should interrogate anyone with a Muslim background and find out if they believe in sharia law. If so, deport them.
It has all the classic signs of the Trumpized GOP: It’s stupid (people will lie). It’s unworkable (who would be able to question millions of people). It’s unconstitutional (First Amendment? Fifth Amendment? 14th Amendment?). It’s counterproductive (we need Muslim communities to help us intercept radical jihadists plotting to kill). And it is hateful and radical. Put simply, it is un-American. There’s the Trump GOP in all its glory.
It would be comforting to begin the process of creating a viable national party now, if only to distract one from the embarrassment of Trump. It’s hard to see how that is possible while the campaign is going on. Nevertheless, the seeds of a new, center-right party can be planted. Here’s how:
Refuse a unanimous nomination of Trump. The dissenters are the nucleus of a new party. The manifesto put out by the various #NeverTrump groups is precisely the sort of principled opposition that should be loudly and consistently voiced. (“Donald Trump is an admirer of tyrants. . . . Donald Trump routinely tramples and cheats ordinary Americans. . . . Trump repeatedly traffics in bigotry.” It is worth reading in full to remind us why he is the greater threat of the two major party candidates.)
Test run a new message. If a youngish, independent candidate can be found willing to articulate a realistic reform vision (e.g. strong national security, fiscal sobriety, free trade, reformed immigration, respect for gay rights) he or she could at least present what a future, viable agenda would look like.
Recognize the stalwarts. There are many Republicans who refused to condone, enable or endorse Trump — e.g. Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Denounce the Trump apologists. These people and groups went out of their way to enable and defend Trump. They include Fox Non-News evening hosts, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.). These people do not have the interests of the country in mind or are so misguided that their judgment cannot be taken seriously. Alternate conservative outlets and voices should be cultivated, especially in the realm of talk radio. (Better yet, just turn it off.)
Come to terms with the party loyalists. Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and a slew of others did not exhibit the moral spine needed to separate themselves from the party and stand up to Trump. They may still be helpful, productive conservative voices in the future. Conservatives should hope they will follow a better path in the future. But they also have seriously, perhaps permanently, damaged their stature as leaders in a future center-right party. Like a lot of pols, they are go-alongers who allow partisanship to override their good judgment and who manage to convince themselves of things that just aren’t so (e.g. “House Republicans and Trump largely agree on issues.”). When it mattered most, they fell down.
Jennifer Rubin is talking about you, John McCain.
UPDATE: Well that was fun. The Rules Committee Report came up for a vote at 1:00 p.m. our time. The Chair called for a voice vote, even though nine states reportedly requested a roll call vote, enough under the RNC rules. The Chair did the typical rolling over the nays and said “the ayes have it,” even though everyone in the convention hall was shouting at the same time.
That’s when chaos broke out. The Chair abandoned the podium to chants of “roll call vote!” The Chair later returned and held a do-over of the voice vote, and the same thing happened.
Sen. Mike Lee made another motion for a roll call vote. The Chair said that three of the states have withdrawn their request for a roll call vote, so there is an insufficient number of states for a roll call vote. The delegates started chanting “we want a vote!” Some delegates began chanting “Dump Trump,” only to be met by chants of “USA, USA.”
The TV talking heads suggest that this might cost Sen. Ted Cruz his speaking spot.